Grads share college advice

bbashioum@demo-mo.comJune 14, 2013 

College-bound students can learn a lot from a pair of Pleasant Hill brothers.

Twins Kyle and Ben Dlugolecki, 22, recently graduated with bachelor’s degrees from Avila University in Kansas City this spring with high GPAs while maintaining athleticism on the soccer fields.

The brothers, 2009 graduates of Pleasant Hill High School, are now looking at grad school in pursuit of their career goals.

Both of the brothers have dreams of becoming doctors – Ben wants to be a dentist, Kyle is looking to be a medical doctor.

Ben and Kyle were interested in Avila after their older brother, Ray, attended the Catholic university.

“We didn’t initially plan to go here,” Kyle said. “We were going to go to Missouri State and play soccer down there.

But at the last minute, the brothers changed their minds after they found out about a coaching change that was being made.

Avila had the majors the brothers were looking for. Both Ben and Kyle doubled-majored in biology and pre-health, and also earned minors in chemistry.

College wasn’t always easy juggling academics and extracurricular activities, but the brothers say they still found time to enjoy the simple pleasures of the experience – something they hope this year’s Class of 2013 high school graduates who are headed to college this fall will take to heart.

The brothers have a list of pointers for prospective students to consider as they enter into the next chapter of their education.

Have a plan.

“Just do something,” Ben says. “As long as you’re working on something, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Choosing a major didn’t come easy Kyle, but he knew he needed to go to college.

“I wish that I knew what I wanted to do going into college,” Kyle said. “In reality, I had to figure out that I’m probably not going to be a professional soccer player and I really did need to focus on the classroom and furthering my education.”

Ben added that even if your post-high school plans don’t include college, it’s OK to join the workforce or the military.

Even though the brothers have completed their undergraduate studies, they are already prepared for what’s next in their lives.

Ben plans to take a few more classes at Avila in the fall and playing another year of soccer for the Avila Eagles while he tries to find a dental school to attend. He said he would love to go to the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Kyle is spending his time in the immediate future working, volunteering and studying for the Medical College Admission Test. Right now, he’s also interested in UMKC, or possibly Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.

Consider a smaller school.

“If you’re going to college, try to figure whether or not if you want to be in a big college setting, like Mizzou,” Ben said. “They tell you that you’re just a number, there. That’s a pretty important thing for a high school student to seek out.”

At Avila, a smaller private university, Ben and Kyle said one of their best college experiences was being able to get to know their professors personally.

“Our teachers, especially the ones in our field, were phenomenal,” Kyle said.

They also helped them stay accountable.

“They know if we’re missing classes and they’ll ask why,” Ben said.

The brothers also enjoyed getting to know other students and teammates from around the world.

“One of the things about Avila is that there are quite a few different cultures here and it’s nice to experience that,” Kyle said. “Everybody seems to get along pretty well.”

Manage your time.

College is typically a student’s first experience of freedom away from their parents. Too much freedom, or lack of accountability, can turn into a bad thing.

For Ben and Kyle, they used discipline to reach their goals, but still found time to enjoy their time in college.

Juggling rigorous courses and a part-time jobs, the brothers still managed to graduate in the top of their class, Ben with a 3.98 GPA, and Kyle with a 4.0.

“You have to manage your time,” Kyle said. “We’re not geniuses, but what it boils down to is that we wanted more than some of the people surrounding us.”

Kyle said they both wanted to be starters on the soccer team, but they also knew the importance of getting good grades.

“We did have to sit in the library for eight hours on a Sunday studying biochemistry,” Ben said. “I bet I studied more than the majority of most people.”

Work hard, play hard.

Kyle says that a lot of student athletes use sports as an excuse not to work hard in the classroom.

Ben and Kyle both earned Academic All-American status during their junior and senior years, as well as being named scholar athletes all four years at Avila. Ben was also captain of the soccer team.

“It’s extremely hard to do, but it’s definitely doable,” Ben said.

Kyle said it’s a balance that students have to find on their own.

“The pre-med major is probably one of the harder majors here, but we started every year with significant roles on the soccer team and we maintained really good GPAs. We also both worked, so there’s no excuse,” he said. “I personally used a planner and we still had time to go out and experience college.”

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